Jan 14, 2013
Pressure is now officially on for the Aggies
Then you realize that each of those five conference wins came against the bottom five teams in the standings and things get a little less impressive. Especially since only one of those five was a convincing victory, while another required some serious late-game heroics for the Aggies to pull it out.
Now the time of reckoning has come for USU. This is where we'll start to really figure out what this team is made of. Thursday is the first meeting between Utah State and New Mexico State of the year, followed up by a Saturday trip to Denver. If this year's squad truly is a better road team than they are at home (which has seemed to be the case), it's time to really show it. This is a trip that it's doubtful any WAC team will sweep this season. NMSU has the talent to surprise most teams on any night and compete, while Denver is just talented and well-coached.
Aside from being good on the road so far, this Aggie team has seemed to play relative to its competition this season. Whether it's playing down to let San Jose State and Seattle give them fits, or playing up to compete with a Saint Mary's team who, in hindsight, looks like they should have demolished USU pretty handily.
Now, I'm all for adjusting on the fly, but playing to your competition can get really risky, and eventually one is going to slip away from you. Idaho almost was that game. San Jose State and Seattle weren't far off either. It's something we saw a little bit of with USU football 2009-2011, eventually resulting a few losses that the team just shouldn't have had. But as they all grew, they realized they had the power to control games from start to finish in 2012, and they did.
I'm hoping that this basketball team gets to that point, ideally this season rather than next year. Hell, maybe they've just gotten bored with all the cupcakes on the schedule and are excited to have a reason to play hard once again. Or maybe they just thrive on the pressure and sense of urgency.
Either way, this weekend is where we really start to learn what this team is made of. If they go 0-2, we'll have a steep, but achievable climb to the WAC title. A 1-1 split is still promising, and likely would have USU still in the driver's seat for the regular season crown. And if the boys see the sweep dance on Saturday night, there's no excuse for not bringing home the trophy come March.
14-1 is nice right now. Get it to 16-1, and we'll finally know for sure that we've got something really good on our hands.